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25.11.2004 Regional News

Forestry forum deplores destruction of Cape Three Points Forest Reserve

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Agona Nkwanta (w/r), Nov. 25, GNA - Members of the Ahanta West District Forestry Forum Thursday, alleged that, illegal chain saw operators are destroying the Cape Three Points Forest Reserve on a large scale.

They said the group of illegal chain saw operators do their operations in the heart of the reserve, usually between 20:00 hours and 05:00 hours.

The members of the District Forestry Forum made these allegations at the forum's seventh meeting at Agona Nkwanta.

The members of the forum, who participated in the meeting included hunters, farmers, chain saw operators, charcoal burners, environmental protection officers, wildlife staff, Forestry Commission (FC) staff, District Assembly personnel, non-governmental organisations and community based organisations.

They said communities along the reserve seriously affected by the encroachment in the reserve included Ejumako, Mpatasi, Banso, Gyedua and Kwesikrom.

The members alleged that, most of the chain saw operators are armed with guns, knives and other dangerous weapons and they fear to confront them in the bush during the night.

The participants said though they hear noise from chain saws during the night, all efforts to trace the culprits have proved futile. They therefore, appealed to the FC to equip the forum with Wellington boots; cutlasses, torch lights, raincoats and forest guards to enable them protect the reserve.

They said some tourist sites within the reserve including waterfalls; bird sanctuaries could be destroyed through the activities of the illegal loggers.

They called on the FC to intensify its protection and oversight responsibility of the reserve to preserve it for posterity. Madam Yaa Konadu Pokuaa of the Collaborative Forest Management Unit (CFMU) of the FC said the formation of the forum, was meant to educate communities living around forest reserves on the need to protect it from degradation.

She said, though several communities had adopted new approaches towards the reserves, a few others were still reluctant and continued to destroy it through their actions.

Madam Benedicta Dokotsi, a Customer Service Manager of the FC said the institution of the Community Investment Fund (CIF) by the FC was meant to assist communities living along forest reserves to establish economic ventures and become less dependent on the forest.

She said so far, 127 business groups within the Cape Three Points area have applied for assistance from the fund.

Mr Lawrence Appiah, the chairman of the forestry forum said it was sad that in spite of the numerous efforts by the forum over the last few years, illegal chain saw operators were still operating in the reserve. He said the forum would continue to seek the assistance of stakeholders to make their activities easier.

A nine-member committee was established to assist the forum to raise funds for some of its activities. 25 Nov. 04

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